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Ascension Academy with Air Transat: First Class Takes to the Skies

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What if your dream of flying an airplane became a reality? That’s the case for the 14 aspiring pilots who make up the first class of Ascension Academy with Air Transat. The program offers students a rigorous, intensive 18-month training to earn their “wings” at CAE’s flight academy in Phoenix, Arizona. The ab initio program is tailor-made to enable them to get their license and begin their career as a second-in-command on the iconic, state-of-the-art Airbus aircraft in the Air Transat fleet.

The program provides structure and support for the student pilots throughout their journey from the classroom to the flight deck, with a training team of CAE and Air Transat specialists following every step of the way.

“The Ascension Academy is a new program that will develop the next generation of Air Transat’s pilots. This program will enable us to recruit and train pilots in advance of the increased demand anticipated over the next years,” said Marc Gilbert, Vice President, Flight Operations, Air Transat.

Today, we are introducing six future pilots from the first cohorts of the Ascension Academy.

Jacynthe Proulx

Jacynthe Proulx Académie Ascension Air Transat pilotes Ascension Academy pilot

With ten years of experience in airline operations management under her belt, the aviation world holds few secrets for Jacynthe. Most of her loved ones, including her partner, are pilots. In fact, it was watching them thrive and grow as pilots that led her to eventually say, “Hey, I can do that, too!”

The flight deck is the best office there is, from sunrise to sunset.

What were some of the other reasons for your career change? The atypical schedules, the quality of the Air Transat fleet, the pervasiveness of teamwork at every stage, both on the ground and in the air, and the balance between novelty – new colleagues, new destinations, new situations – and routine, to name a few. Combined with her methodical mind, her ability to anticipate, and her natural leadership skills, Jacynthe feels that she too will be successful in her new role. But she’s quick to point out that it’s the incredibly powerful and grandiose feeling of getting an airplane up and running that really gets her going. For Jacynthe, there is no comparison at all!

  • Her dream destination: everywhere! Jacynthe has already travelled to over twenty countries. She has every intention of adding to that number in the future.

Shawn Desjardins

Shawn Desjardins - Académie Ascension Air Transat pilotes Ascension Academy pilot

9 to 5 behind a computer screen? No, thank you! With a Master’s degree in Finance from the Université de Sherbrooke, Shawn was already considering a career change when he heard about Ascension Academy through a friend who’s a pilot with Air Transat. It didn’t take much for this globetrotter to decide to apply. He freely admits that of all the trips he’s taken, his favourite part has always been… take off and landing.

I live to travel, so I thought it would be more efficient to combine business and pleasure and work in the travel industry!

Shawn always knew that being a pilot was his dream, even though his parents encouraged him to follow a traditional career path in finance. Above all, he wanted to feel that he belonged to a large organization that shared his values and interests. At Air Transat, he sees a company that listens to its employees and truly cares about the well-being of its people.

  • His dream destination: Rome, for its amazing history.

Maxence Gendron

Maxence Gendron Académie Ascension Air Transat pilotes Ascension Academy pilot

At just 20 years old, Maxence Gendron is already pursuing his dream of becoming a pilot. An outstanding hockey player in college, he believes his years of teamwork will be essential to his future role. And why is that? It helped him develop the leadership skills he’ll need to foster good communication among the crew once they’re in the air. This camaraderie, he feels, carries over to the passengers and contributes to Air Transat’s reputation as a people-oriented airline.

I’ve spent several evenings watching the planes from Jacques-de-Lesseps Park, near Montreal’s Trudeau Airport, and checking to see where they came from using FlightRadar. I’m a bit of an avgeek!

As he embarks on his career, Maxence is excited about the prospect of working for a fast-growing airline that is expanding its fleet, adding new destinations and launching trailblazing initiatives such as the Ascension Academy. There, Maxence hopes to find other students with diverse backgrounds and stories, but who ultimately share a common passion for aviation.

Sofia Mercuri

Sofia Mercuri - Académie Ascension Air Transat Ascension Academy

Born into the world of aviation thanks to her parents’ careers in the industry, Sofia has always been fascinated by the planes that fly over her home near Montreal-Trudeau Airport. Needless to say, joining the Ascension Academy with Air Transat was the perfect opportunity to make her dream of flying come true. From her first visit to the Dorval headquarters, she was struck by the warmth of the team, which convinced her that Air Transat is a great work family.

The physics of a flying airplane are incredible when you think about it! It’s a 235-ton metal tube in the sky with people, luggage, carts and food inside. Being one of the people who make this little miracle happen every day makes me very proud.

Throughout her student life, Sofia has always been very involved. In fact, during her finance studies, she emphasized teamwork and networking. She now hopes to find the same in her profession as a pilot, where her daily life will inevitably be enriched by the many encounters she’s going to make. A people person through and through, she is convinced that she and her colleagues are about to embark on a transformative experience that will forge strong bonds and mark the beginning of the rest of their lives.

  • Her dream destination: Lisbon, for its sense of hospitality and gastronomy

Alexandru Nitipir

Alexandru Nitipir Académie Ascension Air Transat pilotes Ascension Academy pilot

At 37, Alexandru is ready for a new flight path. His varied career, ranging from IT to trucking on the West Coast to emergency medical services, is a testament to his search for a career that combines passion, challenge and innovation. Fascinated by the mechanics and performance of aircraft, he is confident that his calmness, appreciation for atypical schedules and stress management skills will be invaluable assets in the flight deck.

Of all the aviation careers I’ve considered, pilot was the one that had the most appeal to me. It requires both the rational, scientific left brain and the social, creative right brain. With the ultimate goal of making our clients’ dreams come true and accompanying them on unforgettable journeys.

What attracted him to Ascension Academy was the pace of the program. By his own admission, he hasn’t been in school for a long time, but he feels fortunate to be starting a new career at his age and is excited about the rest of his professional life.

  • His dream destination: Originally from Romania, he hasn’t been to Europe in 22 years and can’t wait to land!

Gabriel Antoon

Gabriel Antoon Académie Ascension Air Transat pilotes Ascension Academy pilot

Inspired by his best friend’s father, an experienced pilot, Gabriel knew that Ascension Academy was a golden opportunity for his professional future. He is already working in the industry as an Air Transat passenger services agent at Montréal-Trudeau Airport. Drawn by the brand’s spirit of camaraderie and with the encouragement of his manager, he applied. And he was selected!

It’s definitely something that I can see myself doing for a long time to come. Once I’m officially in the flight deck, I’m never going to leave that chair!

For him, the unique lifestyle and the indescribable comradeship with his fellow crew members are as much a part of flying as the flying itself. As an introvert, his “comfort zone outside of his comfort zone” will be the flight deck, where he hopes to develop strong bonds with his colleagues, grow as a person, and embark on bold new adventures around the world.

  • His dream destinations: Greece and Peru, for their history.

The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

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